"EdenAcres has been a lifesaver for us, especially during Covid! I wasn’t sure if my six-year-old was going to be OK being outside the whole day, but she loves it because the programs are so great. She comes home every time with stories about the forest and our ecosystem. We also love that she’s able to interact with kids from different age groups. I highly recommend the program at EdenAcres!"
"My child comes home from EdenAcres beaming, every time! His eyes sparkle as he tells me about their days adventure. Fostering a deep connection with nature is of utmost importance to us, something EdenAcres is pro at doing! We love it!"
Children are intrinsically motivated to learn. They do so though play and exploring the world around them. At EdenAcres Forest Explorers, we foster a child’s natural sense of wonder as we gently move between instructor-led and child-driven play and activities. Academic concepts of numeracy, literacy, culture, and science are seamlessly integrated into our daily rhythms.
We have chosen the forest as our classroom because research shows that experiences in nature are essential for the healthy growth and development of children. Abundant time in natural settings yields long term benefits in children’s cognitive, emotional, and social development. On top of all that, nature is the perfect place to learn about the world we live in. The natural world provides the living context in which to learn about cycles, interdependence, energy and resources, scale and limits, diversity, succession, and sustainability. At Forest Kindergarten children can explore the natural world, learn to ask relevant questions, develop problem-solving skills & processes for thinking and searching for answers, & learn how to live, work, & communicate cooperatively.
At the heart and soul of NatureDays programs is engagement with the natural world. Through handwork, art and craft, play, and exploration, children learn how to overcome adversity, work alongside others, and develop a deeper relationship with nature. Each day children move between instructor-directed activities and self-directed play, both of which perform important roles in the holistic development of a child’s heart, hands, and mind. Children learn traditional skills related to seasonal themes as well as have the opportunity to engage with the natural world on their own terms. An authentic connection to nature comes from within and self-directed play provides this opportunity. Every day we enhance teamwork and confidence through games and reflection, develop outdoor survival skills, learn native plants and stories, and spend time exploring and playing outdoors. The academic subjects are woven into our daily rhythm through projects, games, activities, and journaling. Our programs are open to all who are interested in giving their child a nature immersion experience that will build confidence and leadership, provoke a sense of awe and feelings of stewardship, while having fun learning and exploring out of doors.
We will spend each day doing a variety of outdoor activities, aligned with the seasons as well as with the children’s ages, stages of development, and interests. We will spend time exploring and observing nature, tracking, and following our curiosities. All of our day will be spent outdoors, rain or shine. Through our exploration, we will learn about how the world works (interdependency & ecology, physics, botany, etc.). We’ll take our questions to field guides and use science tools such as magnifiers, compasses, & microscopes. We’ll play games that aid in developing an active and deep understanding of the natural world. We’ll create habitats, engage in team building (problem solving, creating, games, etc.), hone our primitive skills and camp craft (fire, forts/ shelters, bows & arrows, etc.), make beautiful art (nature art, weaving with grass, willows, etc.), explore “animal forms” (imitations of animals), build cob & willow structures, learn to use knives and tools, find our way using orienteering (compass & map reading), and explore sustainability skills, & homesteading skills. We will make nature journals and field guides, use math in construction activities, and write poetry. All of this is balanced with plenty of nature play and a focus on building our social-emotional toolbox.
9:00 - 9:15 Drop-off
9:15 - 9:30 Forest Exploration
9:30 - 10:00 Morning Circle & Movement
10:00 - 10:30 Snack
10:30 - 12:00 Forest Exploration/Ancestral Skills/Project
12:00 - 1:30 Lunch & Free Play
1:30 - 2:30 Storytime/Handwork/Project
2:30 - 2:45 Clean-up & Closing Circle
2:45 - 3:00 Pick-up
**The daily rhythm described above is an example of the flow of the day. Instructors practice emergent and child-centered learning, meaning that we adjust and modify with the changing needs and interests of the children while incorporating in whatever the forest or farm has to offer on that specific day.
Our Nature Educators come from a variety of backgrounds including Waldorf education, natural sciences, outdoor education abroad, and more. No matter their educational background, all are experienced and passionate about sharing nature with children. Instructors are certified in CPR/First Aid and epipen administration. Staff ratios for Forest Explorers are no larger than 8 students with 1 teacher. All adults in the program have passed full FBI background checks.
Fall and Spring Semesters
Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday
9:00 am-3:00 pm
Fall Semester: 9/12/23 - 1/25/24
First day of fall semester: Tuesday, September 12
Spring Semester: 1/30/24 - 5/23/24
First day of spring semester: January 30, 2024
Hillsboro Forest School Campus @ 16528 Johnson Road, Hillsboro, OR 97124 (use this link for forest school entrance)
This year, we will offer a Choose-Your-Tuition model that includes three models to choose from: Sliding Scale; Standard Rate; and Pay-It-Forward. Click here to learn more!
We are choosing to shift towards a sliding scale model because Equity in Education is one of our core values. We are using this model as a means of increasing access to alternative education and as a tool of economic justice. We invite you to join us in this vision of a better, more equitable world!